MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. – A 33-year-old woman who had been missing for eight days was found alive Thursday in her car at the bottom of a steep ravine along a highway she traveled to and from work.
Tanya Rider of Maple Valley, south of Seattle, responded to her name when her Honda Element was found on State Highway 169 southeast of Renton, State Patrol Sgt. Dave Divis said.
King County sheriff's investigators had traced a signal from her cell phone to a three-to-five mile radius.
They used that information to recheck a segment of the highway, State Patrol spokesman Jeff Merrill said. On Thursday afternoon, they saw something they hadn't noticed before: some brush that was matted down along the roadside. Below it they found her car, smashed on its side.
"She looks very pale, very dehydrated. She didn't have a lot of cuts but had difficulty breathing," Merrill said.
She was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she was in critical condition in intensive care Thursday night, hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg-Hanson said.
The woman was last seen Sept. 19 after leaving her shift at a Fred Meyer store in the east Seattle suburb of Bellevue.
Rider's car had tumbled about 20 feet down the ravine and lay buried below heavy brush and blackberry bushes. Rescuers had to slice the roof off to get her out.
Her husband, Tom Rider, said he had been just sitting down to take a polygraph test at the King County sheriff's office so officers could exclude him as a suspect in his wife's disappearance, when officers told him the car had been found.
"I wanted to make sure they weren't focusing on me, that they were focusing on Tanya," he said.
Tom Rider, who was able to see his wife at the hospital and say "hello," said she had been trapped in the car the entire time she was missing.
"Pretty much she's fighting for her life," he said, adding she was suffering from kidney failure and from sores from lying in the same position for a week.
Tom Rider said his wife regularly commuted along that stretch of road. He added he had searched along the highway several times himself.
He had offered a $25,000 reward for any information leading to his wife's return.